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Mini Presses Pause on Manual Transmissions and Entry-Level Models

Supply chain constraints and chip shortages are the culprit

  • Supply chain constraints force Mini to simplify lineup.
  • Manual transmissions are now unavailable on all Mini models.
  • Base models are also out, and starting prices are up.

If it seems like the headlines these days are a bit of a roller coaster, you're not alone. Supply chain woes — caused by everything from the ongoing microchip shortage to the war in Ukraine — have challenged the automotive industry, with different manufacturers tackling these problems in different ways. The latest automaker to pass these issues onto consumers (in more ways than just reduced vehicle supply) is Mini. The company has recently confirmed that it will press pause on the production of base models on many of its cars, in addition to all vehicles with manual transmissions.

Here's what we know.

MINI Automatic Transmission

If you want a Mini with a manual, you're gonna have to wait

Autocar broke the news this week that Mini had stopped production of models with a manual transmission to "ensure production stability." Though manual transmissions are fairly niche in the overall vehicle market, they remain fairly popular for Mini buyers. For instance, Car and Driver reported that, as recently as 2019, up to 45% of buyers of the Cooper S version of the Mini Hardtop 2 Door opted for the row-your-own six-speed.

The automaker has confirmed to several U.S. outlets that the news from the UK does apply to our market as well. Mini has been clear that the pause is indeed temporary, saying the manual will be back, but without a definite timeline.

Higher prices due to required automatic transmission and dropped entry-level models

Shoppers will see higher prices on Mini lots for two reasons. First, an automatic transmission is an extra-cost option for Minis that come standard with a manual. Since the manual is no longer available, the upcharge for an automatic is mandatory. But that's not all — Mini is also putting entry-level Classic models on hiatus, so the new most affordable Minis will be the previously midlevel Signature.

Before the pause on manual transmissions and the Classic trim, the price for a 2023 Mini Hardtop 2 Door — Mini's least expensive model — started at $24,250, including destination and handling. Today, the Signature trim with the automatic starts at $28,250. The Classic trim level no longer appears on any Mini model, and the Hardtop 2 Door SE electric variant now starts at the Signature Plus level. (The Signature was the base model previously.) For the Countryman, the entry-level turbocharged three-cylinder engine is gone, as is the plug-in hybrid option.

Edmunds says

Mini will put the manual transmission and entry-level trims for all its vehicles — and even the three-cylinder and PHEV powertrains for the Countryman — on hiatus for now. We don't know when any of these configurations will return.